Global Village Center groundbreaking sets construction in motion

The new Global Village Center, a part of the Douglass Residential College, will be constructed on-budget and on-time, said University President Robert L. Barchi at the groundbreaking ceremony on Friday.

The center, funded in part by alumni and other major donors, indicates a new step in educating women at the University on issues around the world, said Jacquelyn Litt, dean of Douglass Residential College and Douglass Campus.

“In this building we will create the educational synergies that emerge when we bring hundreds of Douglass students together,” she said.

There are about 2,400 students in DRC, she said, which is a great deal more than the roughly 430 women who were part of the program just a few years ago. They make up 15 percent of the total undergraduate woman population at Rutgers—New Brunswick.

More than 700 students enrolled in the program this year alone, she said. The program should continue to increase in size over the next few years.

“The growth is tremendous,” she said. “I expect that more students will enroll but it depends on how much we can afford. It really is a small college within Rutgers.”

Barchi said programs like the DRC were crucial to student success.

There are more than 67,000 enrolled students at the University, and the majority of them go to school in New Brunswick. Splitting them into smaller groups makes it easier for students to acclimate to college life.

“In order to make (Rutgers) more accessible to students, we have to break it down into units that are safe,” Barchi said. “Otherwise it is so overwhelming (and) it is difficult for most students to engage. The Douglass Residential College is, as it has been for a long time, a model that we look to replicate.”

The DRC is a one-of-a-kind organization in that it is the only women’s center for global education in the nation, Litt said. Other institutions might have programs for women or for global education, but none combine it the way Rutgers does.

It is also the only female college in a large research institution, Chancellor Richard L. Edwards said.

“It is unique because of its long history of providing opportunities for women studying in other countries, providing those opportunities through leadership,” Edwards said. “Rutgers is looked at as the prime leader for how we’re dealing with women’s issues.”

The various academic associations the University is a part of look to Rutgers for help with any efforts they make to increase their diversity the way the University has, he said.

DRC students have now expanded to many different degree programs in the University. Integrating different majors with global education is a key goal, Litt said.

“What’s the connection between science living-learning communities and global education?” she said. “Bring those together, so what role does science play in a global world and improving global society?”

All members of the college are welcome at the new center when it is built, she said. DRC students in living-learning communities exist for different parts of Rutgers such as the School of Engineering on Busch campus, the Honors College on the College Avenue campus and the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences on Cook campus.

A new National Science Foundation-funded computer science living-learning community will soon begin as well.

The new center is important due to what it will provide for the Douglass Residential College, she said. While members can convene in student centers or classrooms, there are no locations specific to the DRC that can be used for events or classes.

New facilities in the Global Village Center will include both residential and common areas, she said. The top half of the two-story building will be home to students in "global village houses" within the college. These include the Spanish House, an active part of the DRC.

“On the bottom floor we’ll have our conferences, our global telecommunications, our education classes,” Litt said. “We’ll also have areas for students to hang out and talk or work on projects.”

Other facilities will include a large kitchen and a conference room for speakers and meetings.

The center will act as a home base for the DRC, she said. The Jameson residence halls already act as a "mothership" for the students, but this solidifies their space. All students are welcome at the center, she said.

“This opens up new vistas for education, because we haven’t had this physical space,” she said.

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